MSU Denver Brewery Operations Program Facilities

Metropolitan State University of Denver
Architectural Design
Advanced Industries, Higher Education, Historic Preservation
Denver, CO
Project type

A one-of-a-kind brewing laboratory at the birthplace of craft brewing

Attuned to the needs of the growing brewery industry, Metropolitan State University of Denver founded its brewing operations program in 2015. Hailing from the birthplace of craft brewing—Colorado—members of the MSU Denver School of Hospitality knew their newly formed program needed to prepare students with workforce-ready skills that blend the art and science of brewing beer with the hospitality, knowledge, and operational skills needed to succeed in the growing beer industry. The clear choice and home for such a historic program is the historic Tivoli Student Union, home to one of Colorado’s first breweries.

Renovating a portion of the historic Tivoli building, which has been a Denver landmark since 1891, presented unique design challenges and required significant mechanical, electrical, and plumbing coordination. Through extensive collaboration with various user groups and specialized consultants, our Advanced Industries, Historic Preservation, and Higher Education studios worked together to design an innovative, hands-on space for students to learn and experiment with the latest brewing technologies while blending the materiality and importance of the past with a functional modern design.

The renovations were phased to allow for fundraising and limit the impact of the renovation on students’ academic experience. Phase 1 involved converting an old pool hall into 3,100 square feet of high-tech laboratory space complete with sophisticated chemistry equipment and fifteen 15-gallon brewing systems. Phase 2 of the project included the renovation of 4,600 square feet of existing space into a world-class fermentation laboratory and training center.

There are no other labs like the one we have in the world, much less a college campus in Colorado. It sets the bar for our graduates and will expand our partnerships with the beer, wine, and spirits industries.

Joseph LaViolette, Beverage Laboratory Coordinator at Metropolitan State University of Denver

Gaining real-world experience with professional grade brewing systems

After the successful completion of the Brew Lab & Training Center, our team continued to support Metro State and the School of Hospitality, understanding the importance of these facilities for students as they enter the brewing industry. In 2021, our team began designing a facility in a former restaurant space within the School of Hospitality’s Learning Center. This project’s intent was to showcase the brewing operations program while further integrating it within the School.

The new 1,600-square-foot Charlie Papazian Brewing Education Lab is dedicated to the art and science of brewing. Featuring a 3.5-barrel system, students will gain real-world experience on commercial grade equipment serving and selling their own brewed beer.

Rendering (left) vs. reality (right)

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